Every off season, college basketball reporters and analysts write articles and send tweets about who they think will be college basketball’s next breakout player(s).
Players such as Devan Cambridge and Allen Flanigan will likely frequent those lists, especially the SEC lists, and will be among Auburn’s most experienced players. Auburn’s success could hinge on the areas the returning players do or do not improve in and the progress they make this off season.
With the departure of Auburn’s six leading scorers from last season, Cambridge is the highest scoring returning player on the roster. His athleticism and frame have “pro” written all over them, but Cambridge still had trouble staying on the court at times as a freshman. This was due to consistency and (a lack of) defense.
According to Sports Reference, Cambridge had a seven-game stretch where he scored 26, 0, 0, 0, 0, 21, 10.
Most Auburn fans remember Cambridge’s outbursts with his 21 points coming against LSU in a battle for first place in the SEC and his 26 points coming in just 21 minutes against South Carolina.
The inconsistency doesn’t stop there. In Cambridge’s 14 games away from Auburn Arena, he scored 18 total points, or 1.3 points per game. In games played at Auburn Arena, Cambridge scored 112 total points, or 6.6 points per game.
Cambridge’s inconsistency is a product of his style of play, in some ways. As a freshman, Cambridge’s handle and awareness weren’t where they needed to be from him to be effective when his shot wasn’t falling. At other times, his defense was too inconsistent to leave him on the court when he wasn’t shooting well.
Improving his handle and awareness will give Cambridge more tools. With his athleticism and how hot he gets from three, being able to pump fake and take a defender off the dribble would be a huge asset.
His athleticism and frame should also let him be a good enough defender where Auburn can justify leaving him on the court when his shot isn’t falling.
If Cambridge can do enough to stay on the court, his minutes will (likely) go up and so will his points per game and other stats.
Cambridge took massive steps as a player in the few months between his time at Hillcrest Prep and his AAU appearances with the Athletes of Tomorrow, earning him offers from Auburn, Oregon and others. The ability to improve and work ethic seems to be there.
Cambridge has been hard at work this off season, based on his social media posts. In June, Cambridge played at a “pro run” in Nashville that featured players such as Darius Garland and Robert Covington.
Cambridge had several massive dunks posted on social media.
A longer video (about 15 minutes long) was posted by NextUpRecruits and the highlights featuring Cambridge show him driving, blocking shots, dunking and showing some potential improvements.
Travis Graf (@TravGraf_Rivals on Twitter), a Kentucky reporter for Cats Illustrated on Rivals and a member of the Sources Say podcast saw Cambridge play at the pro run and provided AU Hoops News with his analysis of Cambridge’s game.
Graf said Cambridge still has trouble shooting, which could hint at more consistency problems, but it also sounded (and looked) like Cambridge’s handle had improved at least a little.
“[Cambridge is] athletic and a strong dunker,” Graf said. “He had a couple of in and out moves against the lesser competition there, but he couldn’t operate on the perimeter much.”
Graf also reminded those watching the highlights that it can be hard to get in a rhythm at a run like that. Many of the pros there dominated the ball, according to Graf. Cambridge (and others) didn’t get as many chances as he might at Auburn.
With Auburn’s basketball team back on campus, more information about off season progress should start coming out. But Cambridge seems like he’ll be a favorite for having a breakout season either way.
If his handle and defense improves, I expect the rest of his skill set and production will follow. Cambridge should be in line for more minutes and points, but how much he improves those areas could determine how much he plays.